Jan Torres marks 12th year as children’s pastor
Jan Torres sits in her office at Family Harvest Church. (Photo by Luke Backus)
Reaching out to people in the Copper Rawlings Community Center neighborhood is enriching, delightful and incredible for Jan Torres, the children’s pastor at Family Harvest Church.
After more than 12 years in the ministry, Torres said one of the richest experiences she has had has been that children she taught in years past are now joining her in reaching out to others.
As a social worker in Missouri, she worked with children but decided in the mid-1990s to try something different. She attended school at the Rhema Bible Training Center near Tulsa, Okla., and eventually wound up in Lubbock, working again with children.
On Sundays, she leads the children in praise, worship, offering time, role-playing of Bible characters and puppet skits.
“It’s a lot like having an adult service but on a smaller scale,” said Torres. “We do things to get the kids involved, so it’s not just us ministering to them.”
Torres said she believes if children get involved while young, they’ll be more likely to be involved as adults.
“It’s fascinating to see them grow and see the word of God take root in them,” said Torres.
This summer, Torres led the church’s outreach efforts in Copper Rawlings, near 40th Street and Avenue B, as well as the children’s services.
On Saturdays, a group would go over to the community center and minister with toys, games and movies to families in the area. On Thursdays, the group would minister about character, compassion, integrity and diligence to children in daycare at the center. In the last week of summer before school started, the group did a mini-Vacation Bible School at the daycare over three days.
Organizing such an effort takes a lot of planning, Torres said.
“I was blessed to have three youths who worked incredibly with me,” said Torres, naming Kirsten Cowling, Tyrah Dunn and Nicole Risenhoover. “Those three were incredible, helping with everything.”
The outreach has impacted the residents of that area, Torres said, noting that on the last day of the VBS, the children asked them to keep coming back.
“I definitely think it’s made a major impact,” she said. On the last day, they did a skit about the difference one person could make, and it called for each of the actors to stand up and say they were just one person, but they could make a difference. Torres said the children in the audience also stood up and said they could also make a difference.
“I think things are being changed for the better,” said Torres.
But the ministry has also had an impact on her.
“I think it’s definitely enriched my life,” she said.
Torres said the church will be deciding about future outreach efforts in the coming weeks, but she said she believes they will be back at Copper Rawlings in the future.
“It’s a lot of fun. If you go through the Bible, you’ll see that Jesus always went to where the people were. We’re just trying to follow his example,” she said.
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